The tidal wave of the first same-sex marriage (SSM) cases has passed, and I’d like to share some very brief observations. Fong & Aquino, with offices Hollywood and Palm Springs, fielded over 150 inquiries about SSM and has undertaken representation for some 100 cases this year. Some things I’ve noticed:
* Officers are as interested in how the couple met in the case of same-sex couples, as they are for opposite-sex couples. They have even asked the name of the WEBSITE where some couples have met.
* Some officers are puzzled about why some family members might not know about the marriage.
* A significant age difference between the spouses remains a concern for some officers.
There have only been two instances of possible bias. In one case, the officer kept referring to one wife as “she” and the other wife as “husband.” We kept correcting the officer. His excuse was, “I’m sorry; this is new to us.” To be fair, he did not seem particularly hostile or homophobic, but the error was very irritating. And the case was approved on the spot.
The second case took place in Orange County, California. The officer said that for same-sex marriages, he was “concerned about a Chuck and Larry situation,” apparently referring to a 2007 Adam Sandler comedy in which two apparently straight men get married. The movie was full of stereotypes of gay men. I pointed out to the officer that his comment indicated he was assuming that the case was fraudulent. In the end, although additional documentation unrelated to the bona fides of the marriage was required, the case was approved with no fuss.
There are no broad, sweeping generalizations to be made at this point, Most of US Citizenship and Immigration Services here in California are to be commended for doing such a professional job to date.
If you have questions about a family petition or a spouse petition, feel free to contact the office. –jcf